Federal Government Reaffirms ‘Flat Earth’ Position Regarding Medical Cannabis

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director July 8, 2011

    Earlier today, United States DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart reaffirmed in the Federal Register the administration’s ‘flat Earth’ position regarding the medical properties of cannabis.

    Responding to a nine-year-old petition to reclassify marijuana under federal law filed by a coalition of advocacy groups, including NORML and California NORML, Leonhart stated, “[T]here is no substantial evidence that marijuana should be removed from schedule I.”

    A summary of Ms. Leonhart’s ‘reasoning’ is below. (Read the DEA’s full response here.)


    Drug Enforcement Administration

    21 CFR Chapter II [Docket No. DEA–352N]

    Denial of Petition To Initiate Proceedings
    To Reschedule Marijuana

    AGENCY: Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Department of Justice. ACTION:

    Denial of petition to initiate proceedings to reschedule marijuana.

    (1) Marijuana has a high potential for abuse. The DHHS evaluation and the additional data gathered by DEA show that marijuana has a high potential for abuse.

    (2) Marijuana has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. According to established case law, marijuana has no ‘‘currently accepted medical use’’ because: The drug’s chemistry is not known and reproducible; there are no adequate safety studies; there are no adequate and well-controlled studies proving efficacy; the drug is not accepted by qualified experts; and the scientific evidence is not widely available.

    (3) Marijuana lacks accepted safety for use under medical supervision. At present, there are no U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved marijuana products, nor is marijuana under a New Drug Application (NDA) evaluation at the FDA for any indication. Marijuana does not have a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States or a currently accepted medical use with severe restrictions. At this time, the known risks of marijuana use have not been shown to be outweighed by specific benefits in well-controlled clinical trials that scientifically evaluate safety and efficacy.

    Coalition advocates will be appealing Leonhart’s decision in federal court.

    NORML had previously filed a similar rescheduling petition with the DEA in 1972, but was not granted a federal hearing on the issue until 1986. In 1988, DEA Administrative Law Judge Francis Young ruled that marijuana did not meet the legal criteria of a Schedule I prohibited drug and should be reclassified. Then-DEA Administrator John Lawn rejected Young’s determination, a decision the D.C. Court of Appeals eventually affirmed in 1994.

    A subsequent petition was filed by former NORML Director Jon Gettman in 1995, but was rejected by the DEA in 2001.

    NORML will have additional information on this story in next week’s NORML media advisory.

    236 Responses to “Federal Government Reaffirms ‘Flat Earth’ Position Regarding Medical Cannabis”

    1. Little Gypsy says:

      Michele Leonhart: You are a liar when you state, “There is no substantial evidence that marijuana should be removed from Schedule One.” The DEA is only protecting it’s turf and continuing the assualt on people.

    2. Little Gypsy says:

      The known risks of marijuana use: Lower profit margins for drug companies, having to buy through a drug dealer who will not card you but may offer you other drugs that are actually harmful, a society of calm peaceful individuals that actively use their brain, questioning authority and bogus laws, lower profit margins for alcohol and cigarrette producers, a country that is actually free and not a slave state.

    3. hmmm says:

      1. false
      2. false
      3. false

      will they ever learn? this is really ticking me off. Anyone else think big pharma is paying them off to say this nonsense?

    4. Alex says:

      I guess now I know why they call her MS. Leonhart. Uptight bitch.

    5. Little Gypsy says:

      No current accepted medical use in the United States cannot be correct because 16 states have medical marijuana.

    6. Little Gypsy says:

      The real potential for abuse is the people who are arrested for using a benign herb.

    7. Senio Citizen says:

      It appears Leonhart has tipped the DEA’s hand for the coming legal challenge.

      Its current spin about clinical trials, safety studies, and the like attempts to now block cannabis by arguing for more / better scientific proof. The tobacco companies played this “calls for better science” game for generations, ultimately reaching for a “scientific standard” where it would be near impossible to even prove the sky was blue.

      I have spent my career in developing new medical devices and I can see this coming a mile away, but I am not a lawyer. Perhaps a lawyer for our side can turn the tables and have the DEA held to the ever higher standards of proof supporting its exisiting schedule I classification and also argue for our favorite plant’s innocense until proven guilty. I don’t know.

      Personally, after thousands of years of use without a single recorded fatality, I believe it should classified as a homepathic remedy, but to those preparing the appeal, PLEASE SEE THIS COMING from the DEA.

    8. Kenny says:

      How they can say it has no medical benifit is beyond me, I dont know about you but anytime I have been sick or in pain from my diminished lower vertebrae the best cure was to smoke or eat cannibas….the government just does not want to admit they were wrong about cannibas for over 70 years

    9. shad cutler says:

      They can deny til they are blue in the face! What about the will of the people?

    10. SkunkyFingers says:

      Maybe you can get the guy who gets Government Marijuana provided for him from the government for pain to testify at this hearing. That alone would prove that the government has in FACT accepted its medical value in the past. Also reports from studies done world wide should be at hand to present as proof of medical marijuana benefits as a medicine. I hope we don’t run in guns blazing with no proof in hand. The guy that gets marijuana from the government for pain, seems to be willing to show up for the medical marijuana cause, so maybe contact him and ask if he will come to the hearing to testify, and maybe he can bring his government marijuana with him into the court room at the hearing. That would be AWESOME and hard core PROOF!!! Walk into the Court Room with Government Provided Medical Marijuana in hand as 100% PROOF!!! —– that medical marijuana has in FACT been approved by the United States Government. —- PEACE!!!

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